My BEST Science Activity


Title: Fred the Fish

Teacher:Jessica Runyan

Grade Level:3rd or 4th Grade

Objective:The learner will understand how pollution affects an environment.


Time:In class, approximately 45 minutes




Fred the fish is a great water pollution activity that shows what happens to fish in polluted rivers and streams. I've used this lesson several times (even with adults) and it's been a success.
Fred is a light-colored, fish-shaped sponge which hangs from a weighted string into a large jar or punch bowl, about 3/4 full of water.
A scenario is read by different students (9). Each step tells of Fredís travels down stream, starting with a clean river and gradually adding more and more pollution. Different containers of "pollution" are added by the students along the way. For example, when Fred swims under a highway bridge, some cars traveling across the bridge need to be repaired because they are leaking oil onto the road. The rain is washing the oil into the river below. The "pollution" added to the jar at this time is actually maple syrup to represent the oil.
In addition - students can practice using adjectives by making a list of how Fred looks after each addition.


Below is a list of the script.Remember you will also need baby food jars filled with similar items.


Duplicate one sheet per use, cut apart each story

detail and distribute one script to each of nine students.

Imagine a clean river as it meanders through a protected wilderness area.   In this river lives Fred the Fish.  How is Fred?  Fred has lived in this stretch of the river all his life.  But now he is going on an adventure and travel downstream.

Fred swims into farm country.  He passes a freshly plowed riverbank.   It begins to rain and some soil erodes into the river.  (Dump soil in into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred.

Fred nears a housing development.  Some fertilizer from the pastures and lawns washed into the river awhile back.  (Place brown sugar in Fred's jar.)   The fertilizer made the plants in the river grow very fast and thick.   Eventually the river could not furnish them with all the nutrients they needed, and so they died and are starting to decay.  Their decomposition is using up some of Fred's oxygen.  How is Fred?

Fred swims beside a large parking lot.  Some cars parked on it are leaking oil.  The rain is washing the oil into the river below.  (Pour pancake syrup into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?

During a recent cold spell, ice formed on a bridge.  County trucks spread salt on the road to prevent accidents.  The rain is now washing salty slush into the river.  (Put salt in Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?

Fred swims past the city park.  Some picnickers didn't  throw their trash into the garbage can.  The wind is blowing it into the river.   (Sprinkle paper dots into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?

Several factories are located downstream from the city.  Although regulations limit the amount of pollution the factories are allowed to sump into the river, factory owners are not abiding by them.  (Pour warm soapy water into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?

The city's wastewater treatment plant is also located along this stretch of the river.  Also a section of the plant has broken down.  (Squirt two drops of red food coloring into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?

Finally, Fred swims past hazardous waste dump located on the bank next to the river.  Rusty barrels of toxic chemicals are leaking.  The rain is washing these poisons into the river.  (For each leaking barrel, squeeze one drop of green food coloring into Fred's jar.)  How is Fred?